The OutsideTheLines
Feature of the Month

For December, 1998

The "Guess the Author" Challenge

"To Fly With the Spirits"

By "Kijski"

I am a mutant. And I love my power. All that shit you hear about mutants? As far as I can tell, it only happens in Manhattan. And I donít live in Manhattan. Of course, sometimes I think dealing with life threatening situations on a day to day basis may be better than living here--the armpit of the South.


Mary paced the room, wringing her hands. "John, I just donít know what to do!" she cried, her plump shoulders lifting in a helpless gesture. "I think Pearl might be doing drugs. She locks herself in that room for hours at a time!"

John stood, placing a calming hand on his wifeís shoulder. "Weíll take care of it together, if she is. Donít worry."


I donít look like a freak. Well, not because of genetics anyway. I hate where I live, and I want to get out of here as soon as I can. And I hate the kids around here. Which is fine by them, since they hate me too. I wear black; they wear pink and blue. I rat my hair out as big as I can get it; they all wear pigtails. I hate it here.

But, thatís why I love my mutant power.


"What should we do? Sheís on her way home by now, sheíll go into her room and close the door again. I tried talking to her yesterday, she just rolled her eyes and walked into the bathroom, locking the door," Mary said as her husband of fifteen years hugged her.

"Donít worry," he said once more. "Weíll handle this."


My parents are pigs. Theyíre both fat and pale. I inherited that skin, that sallow nasty stuff.

But with my power I can go away from here. Itís great. I can see the world with only a thought. All I have to do is sit and think and I leave my body--I mean, I can still see my body on the floor, but Iím not in it anymore. I dunno, itís kinda confusing to explain. The only catch is that my body canít be moved. I donít know how I know that, but I do.


"Here she comes." Mary and John stood in front of the door as it opened, smiling.

"Pearl?" John said, waylaying the girl as she brushed by. "May we talk to you?"


I sighed and rolled my eyes. NO! I want to scream. Just go away and leave me alone! I hate my parents.


My mother is simpering, acting like some brainless idiot next to my father.

"Weíre worried about you, sweetheart," my dad says, smiling and laying a hand on my shoulder.

Oh god. Not that Ďwe think youíre doing drugs and want to have a heart-to-heartí shit again.

"I have homework," I said quickly, then ducked out of the room and into my own bedroom. I turned and locked the door, then smiled and stretched. I put down my bookbag and sat in my favorite chair, then closed my eyes and . . .



"You see?" Mary said, once more highly distressed.

"Pearl!" John shouted, pounding on the bedroom door. "Come out here this instant!"

"She wonít answer you," Mary sniffed, "she never does. Just stays in there for hours before coming out. Doesnít eat, no sound . . . I tell you, I think sheís doing drugs!"

John frowned at the door before rattling the handle. Locked.



I can go as far away from here as I want. And I donít have to report to anyone. I think . . . Iíll go to Manhattan. See whatís going on. I find myself racing over countryside before suddenly appearing in a city. No one can see me; Iím all alone amid a crowd of people. Itís great! No one to tell me what to do, or that I shouldnít wear what I do. No one to nag me or harass me. And no teachers or parents!


"I think you may be right," John said at last, after having pounded and talked and anything else he could think of through the door for almost fifteen minutes. "At least, sheís not answering." He stepped back, considering. He was worried greatly about his only child, and had no wish to see her hurt. "Maybe we should call the police," he said after a moment.


Here lives a woman who has three kids, and I swear itís just like a soap!

Sheís FOH, but her oldest daughter is a mutant. Her son has a crush on this brat from a nearby apartment complex whoís parents think that heís the scum of the earth. And her youngest kid has cancer!

I mean, dang! I thought these things only happened on TV!

But wait, it gets better.

The landlord has a crush on the mom, whoís going through a really nasty divorce. And the second oldest daughter has a crush on the landlord, but is pregnant with some other guyís baby! Only, she hasnít told her mom yet because sheís afraid of what might happen. I mean, where else but Manhattan could you find something like this? No wonder theyíre always in the papers!

I twisted around and flew out of the building, growing tired of watching them. See, this is the other great thing; I can go anywhere I want. Maybe Iíll head to California . . .


"No! We canít call the police on her, we just canít!" Mary said, horrified.

"Well what else are we going to do?" John asked.

"Just leave her be. Sometimes sheíll come out on her own," Mary said hopefully. John looked doubtful, but finally nodded.


My family is so stupid. I mean, my parents are like, the most overprotective people I know. Even my dog is going bald. What kind of idiots canít even take care of a dog? I live in armpit Henderson. We donít even have a good town name.

Now, California? thatís a cool place. Doesnít snow, the weathers great, you can ski and surf and everything else all in one place! Yeah, this is definitely where I want to live.


Once more, as he had every fifteen minutes for three hours, John stood and listened at the bedroom door. "Nothing," he said, shaking his head. "Mary, we need to do something."


Well, okay, my family isnít as bad as all that. I mean, dad does work two jobs so I can go to a good school. But still.

I yawned and looked at someone elseís watch. Almost five-thirty. I should be getting home, dinner will be soon. My mom always sets dinner at the same time so we can all eat together. Puh-lease. Well, it could be worse. My parents could be divorced and I could be pregnant while having a crush on a landlord who likes my mom. Heh.

Yeah, I guess my familyís okay.

But Iím still moving to California as soon as I can.


"Canít we take the lock off?"

John looked back at the door, thinking. "We just might be able to. . ." he said at last. "Go get me the screwdriver.

"Pearl?" John said, the door finally open. Slowly he walked in, observing his only daughter sitting in her chair, pale as death and barely breathing. "Oh my God. Pearl?"


I fly through the air, with the greatest of ease! I grinned and raced down through the sky, zooming right through a building and coming out the other side. I landed on the ground and looked around the bustling area. Some jokerís dog is barking at me, so I bark back at him. The owner, of course, canít see me. He pulls his dog harder than he should, and I scowled. Be careful! I forgot, though, that he canít hear me either. So of course he ignored me and kept pulling his dog. Normally Iíd throw something at him, but my hands go through things.

Okay, so there are some bad things to being a spirit.


"We donít know whatís wrong with her, doctor," John said over the phone, looking down at his daughter. "She doesnít seem to be hurt . . . but . . ." There was silence as Mary listened intently, then "all right." John hung up the phone slowly, still looking down at his pale child. "Doc Jones says we should leave her as she is until he gets here."


I wander the streets silently, people walking through me. Itís starting to get irritating, not being able to touch things. And I canít talk to anyone. No human contact could get really annoying after a while.

I sighed and flew upward, into a nasty apartment I wouldnít normally go near. Inside a man is screaming at his boy. The boy didnít cook the chicken right, and they have to throw it out. I hurried out of the room, knowing I couldnít do anything to help.

At least my mom doesnít expect me to cook. Maybe when I get back to my body Iíll send this guy nasty notes. Jerk.


"Can you help her?" John asked as the family practitioner examined the frail-looking girl.

"It doesnít appear that anythingís wrong . . . " he said slowly, standing up from his stooping position. "Why donít we take her to the hospital, and see if we can help her?" he said, motioning the ambulance men over. They came and lifted her onto a stretcher, Mary crying quietly in the background. "Letís all go back and see what can be done," the doctor said, leading both parents out of the house. "Iím sure itíll all be okay."


I see a mother and daughter, the little girl tucked in bed as her mom reads her bedtime stories. I remember my mom doing that. I smiled and moved to fix one of the blankets, but I still canít touch anything. This would drive me nuts. I donít think I could live as a ghost. No wonder they torment people.

The father came in and kissed his wife, then his daughter. They all laughed together and turned out the lights.

I miss my parents. My dad works two jobs so that I can go to good schools, and my mom doesnít expect me to do anything but get good grades. Maybe Iíll head home.


Mary turned, burying her head in Johnís shoulder. "Did we do this?" she asked, still crying quietly.

"No, sweetheart," John replied, ignoring the stares from the others in the waiting room. "This wasnít our fault."

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Come this way please."


When I got back to my home my parents were gone. Either I was gone longer than I thought, or they went out to dinner. Oh well, I think I saw some cold spaghetti in the frigde. Maybe theyíll come home soon. Iím really tired of being alone.

I walked into the hallway, and noticed for the first time that my door was open. I know I locked it.

My heart skipped a beat in my chest, and I walked into my room, afraid of what I would find.

My body isnít here.

Theyíve moved it.

Oh Jesus Christ, I have to find my body!


"Sheís stable," the doctor said, hours later as they stood beside the hospital bed, the heart monitor beating slowly but steadily. "I donít think it would be wise to take her home, though," he said, looking up at the parents. "Sheís fallen into a coma, and could come out at any time. But her heart mostly likely will falter if not regulated."

Mary broke into sobs, turning and leaving the room.

"Whatever you think is best, doctor," John said gravely.


Oh my God. Theyíve moved my body. I could be trapped like this. Stop panicking. I could live like this. Yeah, sure, Iíd just not be able to touch anyone . . . or talk to anyone . . . all alone in a sea of people, without parents or teachers. Oh God.

No, I canít do that. You guys? Iím here! I am! Listen to me! What are you doing? Donít leave!

NO! YOU IDIOTS! Iím here! You have to put my body back! Mom, please! Listen! I know you must be able to hear me--you HAVE to! Please, put my body back where it was and itíll all be okay! Please? Mom? I want to come home!

Dad! You can hear me, canít you? Canít you?!

They canít hear me. And they wonít put my body back! Why couldnít you do what I told you and leave me alone!?

I moved to grab my fatherís sleeve, only to have it fall through my hands. I turned to the doctor, willing him to hear me.

Doc, put my body back. Please?

I know Iíve worried you guys. Iím sorry. I canít live like this, okay? I canít not touch things. YOU HAVE TO HEAR ME!

Hear me!


Mom, I canít touch you. You canít hear me. Iím all alone out here.

I donít want to be alone.

Please put my body back.

Iím sorry.

Iíll be good, I swear.

I love you guys.

I do.


God, please let them put my body back.

Theyíre leaving. Theyíre leaving me alone.

Donít close the door.

Donít leave me alone in here. Please.


I might as well kill myself, if I have to live alone. Guys? Did you hear that?

No. You canít hear me. You canít hear me, or touch me, or see me. You donít even know Iím here. And I canít kill myself.

I canít even cry.

The End

Give up?

This story was written by J.B. McDonald!!!

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